A main way to establish security and trust is to provide ongoing, objective feedback that’s believable. Everyone benefits. Our younger generation is conditioned to need it. Video and computer games provide them with instant feedback. They watch many television shows where competitors earn immediate scores, usually with a stated rationale.When young people don’t know where they stand, they may be stressed, confused, and unsure of where to focus. Feedback helps.

One of my favorite memories of teaching second graders has to do with providing feedback. My idea was general and positive, not specific. It worked to encourage them – and me.

My favorite affirming word was “wow.” It continues to be one of my favorite words. If you hear me say it, you know I’m pleased and surprised (“wowed”) by something. Students and parents knew it was a high compliment so it was an efficient and effective way to inform and encourage.

About every month or so my students would vote for a word that was a higher compliment than “wow.” They would make suggestions (e.g., wonderful, fantastic, great), state their reasons, and then vote. We’d each use the winning word to affirm and encourage each other for the next month. They loved it when I wrote it on their papers and I loved to hear them describe each other or a class activity with that word.

One time, Tracy suggested the word “fantabulous.” I’ll never forget it. She was dead serious. She knew she had made up a word, but calmly suggested that we had used up all the good words already. Students quickly agreed and we loved using that word. (Of course, we made sure parents knew that we knew it wasn’t a real word!)

Who do you know who needs feedback today? What can you say to encourage and help them? Look for someone who is fantabulous and tell them.